By Muna Danish Winter break is almost here! That means many of us will be spending time with family and getting some much-needed rest after a busy semester. But during the six-week break, it’s not too early to start thinking about your professional goals and start planning, especially if you are set to graduate this spring. If you find yourself with some down time over break, here are some easy ways to get started on professional development planning. Set goals The new year is a great time to start mapping out your career goals for 2019. Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), a self-evaluation tool which includes goal setting for research projects, skills development, and career planning. View the template here. You can also schedule an individual consultation with GradPro to get more detailed guidance. Imagine PhD is an online career planning tool for students in the humanities and social sciences. You can map out your goals in five areas: degree completion, career development, skill development, personal development and money/funding. MyIDP is a planning tool for students in the sciences and includes self-assessment, identifying which scientific career path is best for you, and setting goals. Start planning for conference travel and networking Conferences are great opportunities to network and build contacts before you graduate. Beyond Academia holds its annual conference at UC Berkeley February 28–March 1. This event includes over 100 Ph.D. speakers who successfully transitioned from academia to industry, non-profit, secondary education, and government sectors. If you are a Master’s student, check out professional associations such as the American Planning Association (APA) or the National Lawyers Guild, and add their conferences to your calendar. Berkeley also offers grants for conference travel for Ph.D., M.S., and M.A. students. Explore career paths by doing informational interviews Start connecting with alumni for informational interviews. This is a great way to network while also deciding what your next career step should be. Start by looking at UC Berkeley alumni profiles on Handshake or Linkedin, or ask your department how to connect with alumni. Take advantage of everything the Career Center offers! Browse jobs and upcoming career events on Handshake, or schedule an appointment with a Career Center advisor. Build skills through online learning Winter break is a great time to learn a new skill or catch up on an online webinar. Berkeley has institutional memberships to various valuable online resources, including Lynda for online videos covering software, technology, business, and creative skills, or UC BerkeleyX (The Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education), which offers free online courses for students, such as Writing for Social Media starting on January 6. Mark your calendar for upcoming events in the spring Think about presenting your work at Grad Slam! Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition where you present your research to a large audience for the chance to win cash prizes. Start thinking about your elevator pitch before the due date of February 19, 2019. Save the date for upcoming Career Center fairs to learn about the full range of careers available to you. STEM Career & Internship Fair: January 30-January 31 Winter Career & Internship Fair: February 20 Social Impact Career Fair: March 12 Spring Career & Internship Fair: April 17 Whether you do one or all of the above, working on professional development over winter break will give you a head start before another busy semester! For more resources, check out the GradPro website. About the Author: Muna Danish is a graduate student in Journalism at UC Berkeley, and a Professional Development Liaison (PDL) with the Graduate Division.